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Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
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Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion


New York Post Best Book of 2016

We often think of our capacity to experience the suffering of others as the ultimate source of goodness. Many of our wisest policy-makers, activists, scientists, and philosophers agree that the only problem with empathy is that we don’t have enough of it.

Nothing could be farther from the truth, argues Yale researcher Paul Bloom. In AGAINST EMPATHY, Bloom reveals empathy to be one of the leading motivators of inequality and immorality in society. Far from helping us to improve the lives of others, empathy is a capricious and irrational emotion that appeals to our narrow prejudices. It muddles our judgment and, ironically, often leads to cruelty. We are at our best when we are smart enough not to rely on it, but to draw instead upon a more distanced compassion.

Basing his argument on groundbreaking scientific findings, Bloom makes the case that some of the worst decisions made by individuals and nations—who to give money to, when to go to war, how to respond to climate change, and who to imprison—are too often motivated by honest, yet misplaced, emotions. With precision and wit, he demonstrates how empathy distorts our judgment in every aspect of our lives, from philanthropy and charity to the justice system; from medical care and education to parenting and marriage. Without empathy, Bloom insists, our decisions would be clearer, fairer, and—yes—ultimately more moral.

Brilliantly argued, urgent and humane, AGAINST EMPATHY shows us that, when it comes to both major policy decisions and the choices we make in our everyday lives, limiting our impulse toward empathy is often the most compassionate choice we can make.

Title:Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion
Edition Language:English
Format Type:Hardcover
Number of Pages:304 pages
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    Against Empathy: The Case for Rational Compassion Reviews

  • Moshe Hoffman
    Dec 15, 2016

    "Against Empathy" does a nice job summarizing all the limitations of empathy, and our altruistic drives more generally, such as being nicer to our kin and neighbors, and being especially prone to news...

  • Jennifer
    Jan 23, 2017

    I saw the title of this book and I had to read it. I mean, who could be opposed to empathy? Does he want us to stop being nice to each other?The subtitle of the book offers a clue: Bloom would prefer ...

  • Ryan
    Jan 25, 2017

    I once gave a presentation entitled something like "Generating Empathetic Responses Through Cognitive Role Taking in Writing." I asked my audience, all teachers like me, how many of us assumed develop...

  • Joachim Stoop
    Feb 05, 2017

    This was not a very clear, graspable, usable book.There are lots of valid points here and he uses a flood of empirical data.But while he says he hates endless discussions about connotations, I found t...

  • Ceil
    Dec 17, 2016

    Really wanted to like this book, having long suspected that "I feel your pain" is part of an anti-logic, anti-rational trend that glorifies individual feelings above all. Aside from setting up some us...

  • Samuel
    Jan 23, 2017

    Full of interesting content and discussion but the only problem was that his arguments, though grounded in sound reason and fact fell short in impact. I was left at the end of each chapter rather diss...

  • Phil Aud
    Jan 26, 2017

    I thoroughly enjoyed Paul Bloom's book Against Empathy. Bloom set out to make his controversial claim that empathy leads to more harm than good. He’s against it. No really, he is. His words: “I ...

  • Tessy Consentino
    Feb 06, 2017

    Interesting topic. The author didn't sway me against empathy but he helped me think a bit differently about it. I still think the world could use a whole lot more empathy. But it does make sense that ...

  • Bookworm
    Jan 22, 2017

    Author has a case...unfortunately it's buried. I was perfectly open to reading Bloom's dissertation that there is *too much* empathy, rather than the need for more. This seemed highly relevant to rece...

  • fromcouchtomoon
    Feb 12, 2017

    Interesting argument, but misleading title, as it's not empathy he's railing against, but small-mindedness. Packaged to be provocative without being as provocative as claimed....